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Home / News and Insights / News / BDB Pitmans advises leading south coast marinas and boatyards operator on key acquisition

Leading law firm, BDB Pitmans, has advised longstanding client Premier Marinas (Premier) on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of John Willment Marine Limited, which trades under Universal Marina. The acquisition, completed on 30 June 2021, was for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 1994 and owned by the Wellcome Trust, Premier operates marinas across the South Coast. Its core business is the wet and dry berthing of leisure craft. Alongside its boat storage services, Premier offers fully serviced boatyard facilities at all its marinas including specialist facilities at Endeavour Quay, Gosport.

Located on the River Hamble, Universal Marina is a prime destination for both leisure and commercial marine businesses. Before the acquisition, Universal was privately owned and operated, offering extensive wet berthing and boatyard services and the largest dry-stack facility on the river.

The acquisition brings Premier’s portfolio of marinas on the South Coast to a total of ten.

Amongst Premier’s other projects is the multi-million pound regeneration of Noss on Dart. The development features a new floating marina, boatyard, commercial units, 70 bed hotel and multiple residential. The site will also become home to South Devon College’s Marine Academy.

At Swanwick a significant new sales pavilion is under construction cementing its position as the leading yacht sales location for the UK. Premier will additionally be looking to invest in Universal Marina to further enhance the site.

Corporate partner Sean Kelly led the transaction, supported by associate Francesca Lo and solicitor Laura Crotch. Corporate tax partner Alex Barnes provided tax advice and partner Oliver Kelly and associate Zak Proffitt gave commercial and competition support. Real estate partner Ellen James, along with consultants John Newton and Tim Barwick, assisted with property matters. Partner Brian Gegg, together with associate Chris Greep, provided employment law advice.

Commenting on the acquisition, Sean Kelly says:

‘We are delighted to have supported an acquisition which will not only help Premier Marinas to expand its portfolio, but contribute to vital regeneration efforts across its sites.’

For further information, please contact the BDB Pitmans account team at Byfield Consultancy on 0207 092 3999 or email

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